After the Las Vegas Raiders selected Henry Ruggs III and Lynn Bowden Jr. in the 2020 NFL Draft to shore up their wide receivers, they shocked everyone when they picked Bryan Edwards.
The Raiders had a clear need at wide receiver entering the draft and decided to aggressively take care of it. They started by selecting Ruggs III with the 12th overall pick in the first round. Then, they added Bowden Jr. with the 80th pick. When everyone thought they were done at the position, they threw a curveball at us by choosing arguably the best wide receiver in the University of South Carolina’s history.
What does he bring to the table?
When thinking of Edwards, his drops and injuries could be the first things that come to mind but stopping there would be short-sighted. The negatives are clear, but the positives, such as being able to create separation and production in college despite not having effective quarterback play in South Carolina outweighed his weaknesses to the point of warranting a third-round pick.
Edwards had a knee scope last November because he had “some swelling.” Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp said it was an injury he had since High School and Doctor Jeff Guy cleaned it for him. He didn’t have any complications afterward, but earlier this year, he had a procedure done.
Later this year, Edwards revealed that he had a broken foot. Before his knee operation and his fracture, he had a torn meniscus in 2015, but the Raiders’ front office should have felt comfortable enough with his progress and must think that he doesn’t have an injury risk moving forward.
South Carolina WR Bryan Edwards, who fractured his fifth metatarsal before the Combine, has his boot off now and is moving around well, Iâ€™m told. Teams were just sent updated images and scans of the Day 2 WR, who is the Gamecocks all-time leader in receptions.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 9, 2020
What does Edwards bring to the Raiders?
A lot, Edwards was able to produce on a constant basis even though the Gamecocks quarterback situation was subpar. In 10 games last season, he had 71 catches for 816 yards and six touchdowns. He is a physical receiver that consistently created separation and generated a big amount of yards after the catch. According to Pro Football Focus, he had 7.6 yards after contact, which was 44th in the nation. Benjamin Solak of Pro Football Network projected him to be drafted where he eventually was, in the third draft, albeit in the early portion.
Regarding Edwards, Solak said that he is “a bigger body with great explosiveness and good long speed, Edwards is surprisingly shifty as a runner, and has the requisite contact balance to break multiple tackles after generating troubling angles with his speed and quickness. Edwards lacks the ideal catch radius of a player his size and often seems late or lazy when adjusting to the football, but he has flashes of elevation catches and downfield tracks that illustrate a high-ceiling player.”
Of course, Edwards has to polish his ball skills. Even though he has no problem creating space for him to work in, he has to do a better job at catching contested balls, but that is something he can work on in order to make the transition to the NFL.
Edwards needs to show he can stay healthy and work on his craft as raw talent isn’t enough to succeed at the pro level. Nevertheless, he has the tools to become a steady contributor for the Raiders.
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Top photo: Travis Bell/Sideline Carolina